Had an interesting meal at a traditional Chinese restaurant last night. It was a beautiful setting with lantern-lit gardens. Very atmospheric. All the meals we have had so far have involved sitting round a circular table, in the middle of which is a large circular spinning glass plate (of the sort that used to be known in the UK as a ‘lazy Susan’). Initially four or five dishes are placed on this. You take a bit with your chopsticks, and then turn the plate to access the next dish. More dishes arrive in waves, until perhaps there are 20 or so on the table at one time. This succession slows, and when some fish, then rice arrives, you know you’ve almost reached the end, which is usually a plate of mixed fruit (melons, grapes, dates) plus some semi-sweet cakes. The only drawback to this sort of system is that it’s hard to know how much you’ve eaten.
On the way to the restaurant there was a bit of soap opera. The roads are pretty crazy here – everyone seems to change lane all the time, just in order to get the most minute competitive advantage. Add into the mix lots of bicycles with largely fearless, opportunistic riders, and the road resembles some tightly choreographed dance of vehicles and cycles constantly weaving in and out. In the midst of this dance another bus drive clipped our bus (very faintly). As soon as the traffic stopped in the rush hour melee, our driver leapt out, ran through the traffic 50 yards or so to the offending bus driver and hauled him out to show him the damage he’d done. The two stood there arguing for some minutes, blocking two lanes of the three-lane highway. In the end they came to a settlement (100 Yuan, paid in cash - about £8), and we were underway again.
Tonight we walked to a restaurant, so no drama en route. It was a restaurant specializing in duck, and as well as wonderful Peking duck (the highlight is the fat and skin), we had all manner of duck parts, including hearts, intestines and feet (these are all pictured above - the hearts are to the left of the arm, the intestine to their left again, with the feet in front). It was a lovely meal. Tomorrow time for some more sightseeing in the afternoon: we hit the great wall.